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Haruhi Suzumiya #1

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

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Haruhi holds the fate of the universe in her hands; lucky for you she doesn't know it!

Meet Haruhi—a cute, determined girl, starting high school in a city where nothing exciting happens and absolutely no one understands her.

Meet Kyon—the sarcastic guy who sits behind Haruhi in homeroom and the only boy Haruhi has ever opened up to. His fate is now tied to hers.

Meet the S.O.S. Brigade—an after-school club organized by Haruhi with a mission to seek out the extraordinary. Oh, and their second mission? Keeping Haruhi happy—because even though she doesn't know it, Haruhi has the power to destroy the universe. Seriously.

202 pages, Paperback

First published June 6, 2003

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About the author

Nagaru Tanigawa

124 books251 followers
Nagaru Tanigawa ( 谷川 流 Tanigawa Nagaru)

Nagaru Tanigawa is a graduate of the Kwansei Gakuin University School of Law. In 2003, he won Kadokawa's Grand Prize for Literary World for his work on the Haruhi Suzumiya series.

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5 stars
1,442 (32%)
4 stars
1,659 (37%)
3 stars
953 (21%)
2 stars
247 (5%)
1 star
80 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 315 reviews
Profile Image for Stephanie.
430 reviews58 followers
July 3, 2009
This is a review of the Haruhi Suzumiya light novels, volumes 1-7. I'd give the first few only 3 stars because they aren't as involved as the later ones: you reach the best parts as the puzzle pieces add up and create a bigger and bigger picture. The reason I didn't give the series five stars is that some stylistic choices don't translate well into English. Kyon is an extremely introspective narrator; metaphors are frequently bloated by English standards; the plot unravels so slowly that you don't know where you are until you're practically tripping over the solution, i.e., each chapter has a long period of rising action, a confusing climax, and a rapid dénouement. Another feature of the novels is how details are purposefully left out to add mystery and suspense (beyond the nickname "Kyon," we are completely ignorant of the narrator's real name, the sequence of events in which the story is told is jumbled even without time travel, and who could North High's back-up esper possibly be?).
These elements of Tanigawa's style distinguish it from science fiction series where action is more important than story. (Ironically, the SOS Brigade is out to avoid an excessively action-packed world precisely because Haruhi gets inspired by this type of fiction.) The lull of mundane moments gives the supernatural elements an edge and keeps them fresh when they come into play.
Over time I got used to the pattern, and grew to enjoy each segment of the series more than the last. The pattern of a meandering story that crystallizes into a tightly-knit problem is crucial because the struggle between the supernatural with the mundane might be the very biggest overarching theme the series contains. I've come to enjoy Kyon's stream-of-consciousness narration (though Asahina's praises get old), the diverse allusions to everything from books (Hyperion) to mathematical equations (the Euler characteristic) to candy mascots (Peko-chan of Fujiya), the way climaxes unfold like a detective story, and best of all, the character development. Tanigawa can create inscrutable characters as well as bewildering plots.
I was wary of amusingly-arranged stock characters until I was well out of the chapters covered in the anime. I have been pleasantly surprised, but the reader runs the risk of falling into the trap of superficiality they set for Haruhi. Every moment that wipes the smile off Koizumi's face, gets Nagato to show a spark of emotion, or allows Asahina to drop the ditz act is very rewarding. Instead of merely knowing what they are, what is most relevant is how their identity within the SOS Brigade will shape their choices when Haruhi's not looking. Getting to know this third, most realistic dimension of their personality, beyond their masks and mission objectives, is part of why it is so effective to tell the tale from Kyon's perspective and not Haruhi's. Her antics are only half the show: the other half is observing how the rest of the SOS Brigade deals with it.
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,115 reviews3,547 followers
September 6, 2013
First of all, this is the first novel of "Haruhi Suzumiya" series. It's the prose format novel. It's not the manga version. I just want to explain it to avoid confusions. I was really eager to read this book since I've researched that on Japan, this book series beat on sales to the "Harry Potter" series, and I'm not going to compare or trying to make a fuzz of what series is better, just it got my attention since any book series that can compete on sales, on any country, with "Harry Potter" book series, is something that you have to take into account. Anyway, both series are totally different in themes, mood and all. The only thing in common is that both series trigger the desire of reading in people and that's good. This first book is totally great. Deliciously fun, crazy and entertaining. I've already watched the first anime series when I read this book, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to read and I expected that I will enjoy it a lot. And it was so! You have a popurri of genres in this insanely good story, you have sci-fi, magic, time-travel, aliens, romance, coming-to-age, and all of this wrapped in smart humor. If you haven't watched the anime series and/or you don't much about it, I prefer not to spoil since many of the impact of the experience of reading this book are the totally unexpected surprises. I can assure you that if you don't know about Haruhi Suzumiya, you can't have the faintest idea of the quantity of surprises that you will find in here. Just that you have an idea of how popular Haruhi Suzumiya character is on Japan (and by now, in many other countries), there is already a term of "Haruhism" to describe the fan movement related to the book series, and the related products like the animes, mangas, etc... So, what are you waiting for? Get on the rollescoaster of crazy fun of Haruhi Suzumiya!
Profile Image for Mir.
4,845 reviews5,002 followers
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December 11, 2018
I gave up on this because I just wasn't interested in the characters. The narrator, Kyon, is very passive in a way that I find boring, and Haruhi doesn't seem to have any personality beyond being rude and bored (bored people bore me; there are so many interesting things in the world! what's the matter with you?). Even her search for aliens or other weird phenomena doesn't seem to be because she especially fascinated by them; she just wants something novel. I doubt the other kids would be as nice to her if she wasn't the prettiest girl in the class, as we are repeatedly told.

I didn't even get far enough to find out if there are actual aliens in this.
Profile Image for Mallory.
64 reviews12 followers
June 18, 2009
I’ve never been a big fan of manga, which is probably why I’d never heard of this novel until quite recently. Apparently, it’s more or less the Japanese incarnation of Twilight. Not so much because of vampires and romance, but moreso because it’s a sub-par novel that has become an international craze. At least enough of a craze for its English translation to have a display near the front of Borders. When I mentioned it to my manga-nerd friends, they knew exactly what I was talking about. The novel has been adapted into a graphic novel, as well as an animated TV show. I figured it was about time for me to get my claws into it.

The plot of the novel caught my eye, and was the reason I picked it up in the first place. The narrator, Kyon, attends his first day of high school and meets Haruhi Suzumiya, a beautiful and sour young lady who soon becomes infamous for her strange behavior and self-proclaimed disinterest in “ordinary humans.” Together, Kyon and Haruhi start up the SOS Brigade, whose aim is to find espers, aliens, and time-travelers. More importantly, the SOS Brigade is supposed to keep Haruhi occupied so that she won’t destroy the world with the amazing power that she unknowingly wields. As Kyon gets dragged along for the ride, he discovers that his life is not as ordinary that he thinks, and probably never will be ordinary again.

My biggest beef with this novel is how much it tells and how little it shows. I don’t want Tanigawa to tell me that Haruhi is angry. I want to figure out that she’s angry by the way she slams her books on the desk. I don’t want Kyon to say that he’s hot, I want the imagery of his sweat-soaked school uniform. The lack of this type of description made the book very boring for me, and it took me over two weeks to finish its 224 pages, just because I couldn’t read more than a few without losing interest.

Beef number two was the overuse of similes. Tanigawa is apparently very fond of them, and they’re not particularly good similes. Sometimes there were several in the same paragraph (like college kids crammed into a phone booth?).

I was disappointed. The premise of the novel was very good. There were times when the novel surprised me with phenomenal insight just when I was about to throw it in the trash. Unfortunately, Tanigawa failed to expand on the more interesting aspects of the plot, and mostly stuck to describing the characters mundane day-to-day school lives in lifeless detail.

One more thing, it irked me how every main character in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya seemed to be uncommonly beautiful. I like to see flaws in my characters. It makes them more real. Mikuru Asahina could have had a crooked nose from a childhood accident. Or Haruhi could have had frizzy, untameable hair. But they didn’t. Tanigawa described them all as being close to perfection, and that annoyed me to no end.

Why are you so popular, Haruhi? Maybe I’ll just never understand what draws the masses. At any rate, this will probably be the last time for a while that I’ll try anything manga-related.
Profile Image for Jokoloyo.
449 reviews269 followers
December 26, 2014
I picked this book at Christmas holiday because I was bored. Surprisingly, the first sentence of the story is: When did I stop believing in Santa Claus?

What a great start!

I had watched the anime version years ago, and I had great fun. Even nowadays I can still remember the premise and main story. I suffered much when reading this book because I already knew the story's twists. But even with lack of surprise in plots, I enjoyed the voice of POV character. The unreliable first person POV with sarcastic personality is a good choice for this humorous story.

After finished this novel, it is obvious that this is a first novel of a series. The character growth kept at minimum, and many parts are just barely introduced. So, it is a good book for almost everyone. If you don't like what you read of this short novel, you could just stop at this first book. If you like it, there are many sequels available.
Profile Image for Sean O'Hara.
Author 19 books91 followers
July 16, 2016
The Meloncholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is about a 14 year old Japanese schoolgirl.

(Well, there's a surprise. When was the last time you came across a light novel that didn't have a teenage girl as the protagonist? Japanese authors write about schoolgirls the way Americans write about middle aged white guys.)

True. Although to be fair, Haruhi isn't really the protagonist. She's more a force of nature. The real protag of the story is the narrator, Kyon. He doesn't want to be the hero -- he'd rather be a Nick Carraway type, watching interesting action from the sidelines and occasionally hanging out with the real hero. But on the first day of high school, he's assigned a seat in front of Haruhi and is thus sucked into Cloudcuckooland.

Haruhi is the sort of weird girl who, in an American movie version, would be played by a young Winona Ryder/Christina Ricci type. She hates the ordinariness of her life and wishes to encounter something interesting -- aliens, espers, sliders, time travelers. She'll talk to her fellow students just long enough to determine there's nothing interesting about them, then ignore them. But Kyon somehow gets past her defenses and she ... "takes a liking to him" isn't quite it. Drafts him as her first buttmonkey captures the relationship quite well. Soon Haruhi, inspired by one of Kyon's offhand remarks, decides to form a new school club, the SOS Brigade (that's the "Save the World by Overloading it with Fun Haruhi Suzumiya Brigade," which has to be the worst acronym since Calvin founded Get Rid of Slimy Girls).

Instead of chartering the club the proper way, Haruhi simply takes over the Literature Club, which has only one member, a girl named Yuki Nagato. Haruhi also shanghais an upperclassman, Mikuru Asahina who happens to have the qualities Haruhi wants in an SOSer -- i.e., big boobs. Later, when she hears about a mysterious transfer student named Itsuki Koizumi (all transfer students being mysterious in Haruhi's mind), she pressgangs him into the Brigade as well.

So what does the Brigade do? It's complicated, but mostly it involves Haruhi forcing Mikuru into revealing outfits (which wouldn't be so bad if she didn't do it in front of the guys. Yeah, for a YA novel, there's some real ickiness here.) They also make occasional weekend excursions to hunt mysterious phenomenon, though they fail to find any, much to Haruhi's frustration. Which is ironic, because it turns out every Brigade member beside Kyon is a mysterious figure working for mysterious organizations who were sent to keep an eye on Haruhi.

And why does Haruhi need to be surveilled? That's really complicated and should best be discovered by reading the book (though skip the back cover, because it gives away the big secret).

Apart from the supernatural elements, the book reminds me a lot of my high school years, when walking across the library could end with me getting shanghaied into a bizarre adventure with women of questionable sanity. Ah, those were days.
Profile Image for Colin Bruce Anthes.
214 reviews21 followers
June 17, 2011
When I found the anime series The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, I was ecstatic. This comic splash, seamlessly travelling from cosmic science fiction to familiar high school nostalgia, was a masterpiece. “What I find incredible,” I said to a friend and co-watcher, “is that it’s so much more than just genre fiction.”

I have now read the first three books. They are no more than genre fiction.

The norm, of course, is for film and TV adaptations to capture a part or an essence of the book, and then for the full effect one digs up the cover. But Haruhi is just the opposite. With magnificent visual and musical schemes, and some of the most creative, detailed voice acting I’ve ever heard, the full effect is definitely in the series. The words themselves are not much different from what’s written in the books, but the scripts are perfectly timed out. They pair crackling dialogue--that slims down Kyon’s weighty inner monologue--with priceless pauses and reactions to create a flow that simply doesn’t exist in the books. There’s more to it, and all of it’s better.

The greatest difference lies in the character of Kyon himself. In the series, he is a well rounded and likeable character. He is reserved and secretly sarcastic, but he stands tall and interacts without too much difficulty. He has a teenager’s raging hormones, certainly, but it is also believable that he could get a girl to like him, and so there is some romance in his lust. He over-controls his too-normal life, and doesn’t willingly sign up for adventures, which makes the wildness of the other characters seem healthy for him (and, perhaps, the viewer). It is believable that he grows to care for his randomly-assembled companions, and his surprised discovery of what is actually good for him is fascinating.

Moreover,he is far more interesting than your standard straight man character because his clever inner monologue is a secret he shares with the audience. Unlike in a film noir script, Kyon is never as witty with other characters as he is with us, not even with his longtime best friends. We are his best friends, and so we can invest in his story more personally.

In the books, Kyon is reduced to a leering, undercutting creep. Forget those seamless shifts from cosmic to domestic storytelling; Kyon is so casual, reluctant, sarcastic, and horny that even most extreme situations have an “and then this happened too” feel to them. Rather than interrupting the action to crack up the audience with his real thoughts, delivered with energy and surprise, Kyon goes on and on in his amusing but rarely hilarious sarcasm. A universe-threatening super-being surrounds him with beautiful girls because that’s really what it would take.


I’ve given all the books I’ve read 4 stars because, while they are just genre fiction, they are readable and enjoyable genre fiction. Plus they get bonus marks for sparking one of the best shows I’ve ever had the good luck to see. Long live Haruhi!
Profile Image for Lindley Walter-smith.
202 reviews12 followers
February 25, 2012
First of all, I'm really glad some Japanese light novels are making it into English. And there was a lot to like in this one - the science fiction plot, the ambiguity about who is the real source of power and strangeness - everyone in the novel seems to think it's Haruhi, but it's amazing that every event turns out to play to exactly what Kyon wishes for - are really original and enjoyable. There was a lot I found appealing and fascinating.

What wasn't appealing and fascinating was the relentless objectification of Mikuru, and the way it always plays out for Kyon's gratification, allowing him to be the "good guy" while sexually harrassing by proxy. This was the reason I stopped watching the anime, and it's even more relentless, offensive and just plain squicky in the novel. That's what lost it two stars. Without it, this would have been a five star novel.
Profile Image for Marsha.
Author 2 books33 followers
September 16, 2022
While this manga may be a phenomenon in Japan, it left me cold. The titular character is not fun loving, carefree or exciting. She’s self involved, rude, crass, obnoxious and burdened with the kind of insufferable personality that’s supposed to register as outgoing and spirited but instead just comes across as meanly oblivious to other people’s feelings. When I read about her groping and molesting another female student in a way that would scream “harassment” in any other exchange, I was sickened and appalled. I simply couldn’t read any further and decided to let this book go to some other person who might find such obscenities amusing.

__________

The only reason I returned to this book is because I don’t like to leave books unfinished. This one proved a quick read, once I choked down the bile that rose to my throat.

I kept wondering if the English title had been a poor translation of the original. Melancholy is defined as “a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause”. But Haruhi doesn’t seem melancholic. She’s bored, angry, overexcited or testy, so rapidly changing in her moods that I wondered if she were bi-polar.

My initial impression of Haruhi was that she is an emotional, temperamental brat, with little reason for her haughty attitude. Yes, she’s beautiful and excels at studies and athletics. But otherwise there’s nothing distinct about her, other than her loathsome personality. She is rude to people because they’re not special enough for her. They’re not aliens so why should she waste time talking to them?

My response to such a query would be, “What, exactly, are you bringing to the table, missy? Why should a visitor from another planet want to talk to you out of the approximately seven billion human beings on the planet?”

Well, as it turns out, Haruhi is literally the creator of the world. She wanted special beings like aliens, time travelers and people with psychic abilities, so she called them into being through sheer force of will. When I read that, the book started to attain some interest for me.

We’re meant to be seeing Haruhi and the other characters through the eyes of one Kyon, the perfectly ordinary boy Haruhi picks to talk to and help form her oddball club that consists of exactly five members—Kyon, Haruhi herself and the aforementioned alien, time traveler and esper. These characters don’t really change all that much and prove to be so frustratingly opaque as to be little better than Haruhi herself. Often, they talk to Kyon about Haruhi but she’s a mystery to them and thus remains mostly a mystery to the reader. When he questions them, they either give answers so steeped in scientific jargon as to be incomprehensible or stonewall him with the comment that the information is classified.

Kyon himself is little better than a doormat to Haruhi, allowing himself to be yanked hither and yon, pay for her meals or put up with her outrageous suggestions. He’s been described by one of the other characters as being an ordinary human with no special abilities or gifts. He doesn’t seem brave, handsome or skilled. So why does Haruhi pick him? Why does he hang around her when she is as rude to him as she is to other people? Is he falling in love with her? It’s hard to tell, since he spends a lot of time ogling other girls in the vicinity. Well, he’s a 15-year-old adolescent, so I suppose that’s normal.

As for Haruhi, the melancholy of the title is explained when she reveals to Kyon about a bout of existential despair that descended on her years ago when she attended a baseball game. This passage clarifies her attitude but doesn’t really excuse it.

In the end, Haruhi is once again sexually mauling the weepy Asahina (the time traveler) while wrestling her into a revealing outfit. I really don’t see the point of this. Haruhi tried this before in order to lure people into joining the club. But it didn’t work in real life and it didn’t work online (Kyon deleted the pictures—but not before making a private file for himself!). So what’s the point?

My annoyance with Haruhi had returned. While I might have been mildly curious to see just how Haruhi handles the notion that extraterrestrials, temporal tourists and psychics do exist, I can’t be bothered enough to read the sequels. Don’t worry, Haruhi. My world, at least, will go on without you.
Profile Image for Joshua Buhs.
647 reviews105 followers
December 29, 2015
I don't get it, I guess.

This is a fantasy story that became the basis for all sorts of artworks in Japan since it came out in 2003--manga and anime and books. The story starts out as a teen tale of high school before morphing into a fantasy. We learn that the weird girl who has forced the narrator and several other students into a club is actually a sort of God, whose powers--unrealized by her--might be creating fantastic beings: people with ESP; aliens; time travelers. And might also be capable of destroying this universe and starting another one, if she's bored--meaning its their job to keep her entertained.

The problems with the story are many and manifold. It takes forever to get to the point, even after we've learned the secret (three different times!) and the climax comes so near the end of the book its obvious this is meant in as a lead-in to a series. There's hardly resolution.

During the overly long preamble, we see the world entirely through the eyes of Kyon, a not-very bright high school student. He annotates every event, every utterance by another person, with a whining thought, and then some noncommittal response. He is very annoying, and spending time with him is mostly unpleasant.

The writing is stilted and awkward--indeed, parts of it read very much like a book my ten-year-old daughter just wrote. I'm not sure if that's a characteristic of Japanese YA, of the translation, a conscious decision by the author, or some combination of the above. If it is a conscious decision, there is no pay-off--a la Jennifer Egan's The Keep or Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon. The prose just sits there, clunky, throughout.

Once the story finally gets going, it's fine enough but standard fair and only thinly developed. The characters are never more than stock figures--and that's with three of them having 'secret histories'--all except Kyon ridiculously beautiful (which he continually mentions). (There are some weird sexual subtexts, too.) I suppose the ideas are fleshed out in subsequent books and other versions, but nothing here was compelling enough for me to look into those.
Profile Image for Jay H.
7 reviews
January 27, 2011
I read this novel because I wanted more of the story after watching the anime, and because books always have more to offer than their movie/tv show counterparts. Well it was a huge disappointment. Everything, and I mean every single scene in the book was incorporated into the anime so there was nothing new, and the writing was so bland that it left almost no motivation to finish the book. I do feel that a lot of the voice is lost in translation, but even so there could've been so much more to offer. In the end, it just felt like the narrator was telling me a story. I was not IN the story, I did not FEEL what the characters felt or any of that. It was just a person telling a story - telling, not showing. Very boring and too straightforward.
The constant incorporation of the narrator's thoughts are confusing because they they are not distinguished in any way from the regular narration, and the writer also has a habit of including dialogue without any mention as to who said it. If I wasn't familiar with these characters from the anime, I would have had a lot harder time figuring out the literal events of this story as they happened. Over all, it's a great idea but very poorly executed.
Profile Image for Johanna.
127 reviews15 followers
August 5, 2015
I have very mixed feelings about this one. While I love the story, there are a number of very disturbing scenes and many of the characters, though amusing, are very unrealistic and unconvincing. It's definitely easier to suspend disbelief if you have a history of watching anime, because a lot of these things occur frequently in manga and anime.

I also think the translation could be better. I recognized some expressions that were literally translated from Japanese, but just didn't work in English, and a lot of the times the writing felt a bit clumsy and messy.

All in all, I enjoyed this book, it was very entertaining, and because I watched the anime as a teenager there was a nostalgia factor as well, but I can definitely see that I wasn't very critical when I first watched and enjoyed the anime. The story is still great, but the way femininity and sexuality and consent are treated is just very problematic and I can't really overlook that as well as I used to. (Which, for the record, I consider to be a good thing!)
Profile Image for Beth.
882 reviews97 followers
February 29, 2016
This light novel's strongest feature is its imaginative premise, which takes the idea that perception creates reality to the extreme through the heroine Haruhi Suzumiya. Haruhi desperately wants to see the weird, magical, and science-fictional in her life, and the world could literally end if she doesn't get it.

Everyman "Kyon" (a nickname that we never learn the full name for) reluctantly gets caught up in the eye of the storm that is Haruhi, conceding to her silly schemes, grumbling the whole way.

As for the rest of the book, beyond its premise and the weird scenarios Kyon is put through? It's pretty weak. There's no real style to the prose--light novels are supposed to be easy reading, but this one takes that idea too far, in my opinion. And there are way too many similes. Eyes shine like stars, buildings rise like bamboo shoots, someone smiles like cherry blossoms in full bloom (er?), and so on.

Since this is my review, objectification of women will not be overlooked. Mikuru's breasts get way too much attention from the narrative--I don't need a reminder of her chest size every twenty pages. And then there's Haruhi herself. She's presented as a character who has no notion of social niceties. Now of course, this doesn't mean she picks her nose or trims her toenails in class. Instead she changes into her gym clothes in the classroom regardless of who might be there, and strips down Mikuru in their club room and forces her to dress in maid costumes and bunny girl outfits.

I didn't particularly like Kyon, either. He's so disaffected and cynical that I had trouble caring about him, and I saw nothing in him that would attract Haruhi to him as a romantic partner.

I'm interested in seeing where Mr. Tanigawa takes Haruhi and co. next, and hope he dials back on some of the more irritating aspects of his characters next time.
Profile Image for Angie Medina.
52 reviews10 followers
January 28, 2022
La obra posee una premisa muy interesante instaurada en conceptos filosóficos y de física especulativa; así como la desazón que suscita saberse una mota de polvo en el vasto cosmos.
Infortunadamente, si bien todos los personajes tienden a lo bidimensional, el narrador es insufrible e insulso por encima de la línea de lo tolerable, cosa que nubla la idea general del texto. En adición, el exceso de morbo arruina la seriedad que debería surgir de descubrir un día el mundo como un sueño, es demasiada banalidad incluso para un adolescente.
Profile Image for Kevin.
1,454 reviews34 followers
June 3, 2017
I really love this story, the characters and most especially the narrator Kyon from his opening monologue about believing in Santa straight through to his ultimate solution of the Haruhi predicament.


6/3/17 reread, I had so much fun reading SOA last week I wanted to revisit Haruhi
Profile Image for Sjors.
195 reviews8 followers
December 8, 2021
Guilty-pleasure alert! Ok, so I like me some Japanese anime - and among the few titles that I really like is "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya". The moe art style, the funny dialogues, the cascade of improbable events, and the unexpectedly strange storyline pull this series away from the typical 'slice of life' anime (or whatever the pundits call it). The anime was made on the basis of the eponymous light novel and, in my opinion, improved upon it (at least, season 1 did). Long live the SOS Brigade!
Profile Image for Lauren (Northern Plunder).
356 reviews189 followers
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November 14, 2021
My review was first posted on Northern Plunder, you can read more of my reviews there too.

Its been a little while since I read this book for my travelling book project so I'll try and keep this straight to the point.

The story of Haruhi Suzumiya is an odd one and definitely covers a lot and has a lot of potential - some of which it reaches. But overall it left me feeling a bit too weird and creeped out to fully enjoy the story it told so it ended up being just an okay book.

The main fault it had, for me anyway, was that it was really pervy and sexual assault-y in super odd places but tried passing it off just a joke or the usual happenings in a Japanese school. So I mean added to that these characters are underage too just gives another layer of weird.

Here are some of the things I recall being put off by:
- strong focus on the female characters breats by Kyon
- Haruhi groping and using another female characters body to "get things done" without consent
- Haruhi continually pushing said female character to wear lewd outfits to "get things done" or to just be the maid during the school club
- Kyon saving said images of female character as a maid for possible later enjoyment (without her consent/knowledge)
- Kyon recognising Haruhi's predatory behaviour to other said female character but doing nothing to stop it

I'm sure there were probably others but these are ones that have stuck with me all these months later.

So lets pretend none of that gross stuff happened and put me off enjoying the book yeah? Lets talk about the things I did actually like.

Haruhi is weird, she's different, and she 100% believes in the extraordinary - aliens, mind readers, and the likes.

Once she creates the S.O.S club and things get going I was really hooked because it soon becomes apparent that not only is Haruhi correct to believe in such things, everyone in her club (minus Kyon) is extraordinary. Haruhi doesn't actually find out that these extraordinary people exist so close to her because they're all there to monitor her as it turns out Haruhi is the most extraordinary of them all.

She is literally the creator of their world. So its there's and Kyon's (new) job to keep Haruhi to make sure she doesn't actually destroy the current world and everyone in it.

Its a very interesting way of writing a world because it really makes some interesting imagery and scenes.

But also because of the whole concept of "Haruhi created this world" it allows the reader to ask a lot of questions - which as this is the first in a series might not always be answered.

Anyway I think that pretty much covers my thoughts on this book, heres a photo that Jenny took when it arrived back to her.

Profile Image for Selena.
1,839 reviews237 followers
July 19, 2015
I enjoyed this one a lot. It really spoke to the part of me that says "there must be more to reality."

This reads like a goofy rom com, and it is, but with a twist. It's told through the eyes of Kyon, who ends up sitting in front of a crazy girl who wants aliens, time travelers, and espers (psychics) to exist. She starts a club and drags him into it so they can search for these mysterious beings she knows exists but can't find.

And believe me, they do exist. They're right under her nose. And they're all watching her, wanting to understand her.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a bunch of cliches rolled up into one light novel. You have Haruhi, the fearless (and possibly delusional) leader. You've got Kyon, the perfectly normal bystander who gets dragged into this. There's the "Moe Moe Desu Desu" Michiru. There's the quiet smart girl, Nagato. And last, there's Koizumi, the only other guy in the group who is all smiles and obviously hiding secrets.

This group bands together to be part of a useless club that doesn't do anything in particular. Or, more accurately, they're all forced to join by the force of nature known as Haruhi Suzumiya.

The first book in the series acts more as an introduction to the characters and doesn't have too much of a plot until the last chapter, when everything comes together. Be patient with it, and just laugh like crazy as you read. It's highly entertaining.

This is kind of the origin of some of the crazy anime we've seen more recently. You can see its influence in series like Chuunibyou, with the normal guy and the girl who believes in crazy stuff.

If you are a modern anime fan and have never heard of Haruhi, this is definitely worth a read. You'll be surprised just how much modern anime has borrowed from this light novel.
Profile Image for Thibault Busschots.
Author 3 books36 followers
August 13, 2022
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya anime was a huge success and with good reason. After loving the anime, I decided to give the original light novels a go.


Kyon is a student who’s pretty much dragged along by his eccentric classmate, Haruhi Suzumiya. Haruhi tries to fight the boredom of common life by looking for aliens, espers, time travelers, … All the while those supernatural beings are all around her, trying to keep her entertained and hold her powers in check. Because Haruhi is a god who can destroy the entire universe. And she doesn’t even know it.


It’s a fascinating concept that speaks to the imagination and deals with something that teenagers in particular struggle with, the urge and the need to be more than just ordinary. The first book does what it needs to do: introducing the setting and the characters. But it doesn’t really do more than that.
Profile Image for Maud.
758 reviews185 followers
January 20, 2015
Watch my full review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJaEE...

I love this series so much! I first watched the anime, then read the manga and then I discovered that there were actually novels too! I was so happy and this novel didn't let me down at all!
The story is the same as the anime and manga but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. I loved seeing all my favourite characters again. I love how fierce and passionate Haruhi is, how hopeless and sarcastic Kyon is, the quietness of Nagato, the cuteness of Mikuru and the continuing smile of Koizumi.
And, not only does the cover look really nice there were some very pretty drawings between the pages!
Overall I'm really satisfied with this novel and I can't wait to pick up the next volume.
Profile Image for Fox In Box.
47 reviews
February 23, 2022
This was a fun read, and the prose has a lot of spunky adolescent charm to it. If you enjoy spirited, high concept teen fiction, and are willing to trade annoying YA tropes for a few annoying anime tropes, you'll have a good time.
Also, if you're any sort of otaku, consider checking Haruhi Suzumiya out because of its cultural importance as the book that incited the boom in light novels, and as the source material for the anime adaptation which was quite culturally significant in its own right as one of the first really popular moe anime.
And if you're already a reader of light novels, this is definitely a better use of your time than any of those "I was reincarnated as a pizza in another world and now dozens of magical gamer girls can't stop eating me but in a good way" type books.
Profile Image for Rhockman.
116 reviews8 followers
June 13, 2010
El argumento es absorbente pero peca en exceso de protagonista "concha vacía" (Suena mejor en inglés).

Hice un intento muy fuerte por despegarme de la imagen de la portada y hacerme mi propio elenco de personajes de carne y hueso... pero está escrito para que sean personajes de manga.

Creo que hay otra historia igual de interesante en el libro, distinta a la que transcurre en el relato; y me imagino que es la de un autor bienintencionado con una idea interesante y la de un vacío creativo en el inconsciente colectivo japonés que se manifiesta en la forma de colegialas vestidas de conejitas.
Profile Image for Burden.
56 reviews1 follower
February 3, 2019
Like most, I was drawn to the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise because of the extremely successful anime series and this, in turn, is my reason for struggling to enjoy the novel. The anime and novel are one and the same. Every thing that happens, every single line of dialogue, it is all the same. Now I know the novel came before the anime, but that doesn't make the reading experience any better, it is still an exact clone, not matter what way you look at it.

Also, on occasion, I did struggle with the book for other reasons. A lot of the metaphors, in my opinion, were lost in translation. And when the book suddenly became technical, you were inundated with pages of dense text that were nowhere to be seen the rest of the despite.

Despite this somewhat negative review, I did score the book a 4, because although I didn't particularly enjoy it , it was still full with the characters and story that I love so much.

So in my opinion, if you love the show, then give this one a miss, but if you are new to the series, then dive right in and prepare to enjoy yourself.
Profile Image for Charles.
515 reviews62 followers
February 13, 2021
I'm not gonna avoid spoilers because I don't really think this is worth reading.

So, to start with, rather than Haruhi Suzumiya, this seems all about the narrator, whose full name we don't learn, just the nickname Kyon, which apparently means something similar to 'Bambi' (it refers to a species of barking deer, and the n makes it a feminine name). His unique characteristics are non-existent, as being an awkward teenager and wanting to believe in paranormal things but not having enough evidence are not, imo, unique or even exclusive characteristics. Also he's a horny teenager. His development by the end of the novel is, as far as I can tell, minute to non-existent in terms of agency, honourable action, or innate, unsubstantiated belief in paranormal people/creature.

Haruhi Suzumiya. I can't really stand her as a character. At her core she's a girl looking for magic in the world, which I can't take issue with, but every single thing about her seems designed to grate. She's inconsiderate, rude, unobservant, and excuses her actions because she feels she has a higher purpose. She gropes and attacks other people either for comedic effect, for the sexual gratification of the readers and author, or because at some level she understands and agrees with the central idea of the book, which is that the entire world revolves around her. Her romance (is this a romance? It seems like an ignorant crush or high school fling.) with Kyon seems to be based on the fact that he is slightly less boring than everyone else rather than because he is attractive or more interesting or a good match for her.

The unique way all of the paranormal entities are presented bothers me a little. Haruhi seems like a girl completely set in her beliefs, with definite aspects of phenomena that she's looking out for. I acknowledge the possibility that she could have come up with original takes on aliens, 'espers' and time travel but, this seems more likely a consequence of the author wanting something original to engage the readers than a reflection of subconscious assumption and conflation of things she's read about and hopes to see. I admit I'm not really up on Japanese media and myth which does, at a glance, seem keyed to innovation and originality, but it clashes with Haruhi's character as I understand it. Her disbelief, which leads to the major conflict, stems from a strong set of beliefs being unsubstantiated rather than a fluid hope which would by it's very nature, be perennial.

This seems like a fairly accurate portrayal of the mind of a high school boy in that Kyon can't seem to make up his mind about which girl he's attracted to and/or wants to be in a relationship with. Less realistic that he's surrounded by incredibly attractive girls all with some sort of emotional investment, and the girl whom the world revolves around is secretly in love with him, along with the loli that is part of his blossoming harem. The only other guy who isn't a minor character is a pawn of Haruhi and seemingly not a threat romantically or sexually for anyone's attentions but rather an impartial observer.

The ending - not really a conclusion or resolution - of the novel is a moment where Kyon is forced to kiss a hot girl who annoys and attempts to control him or the destruction of his world as he knows it and it being recreated more to Haruhi Suzumiya's liking. Which would probably be fairly similar to what it was already except more obviously paranormal and he would have gone through all of this disturbing stuff and have been transferred from one world to the other as Haruhi's crush. It's not a culmination of his feelings for her, she would seem to have shallow half-formed feelings for him, and honestly I'm not sure it would have been a bad thing for the world to have been made anew in the way of a muscle tearing to build up or a creature evolving to become greater.

I think this book was a mistake. The fact that it's a romance, that it revolves around the male unnamed narrator, the methods of Haruhi in searching for paranormal phenomena, the proliferation of actual paranormal phenomena. It would have been so much better if this was a story about Haruhi alone, unlinked romantically, believing without evidence in a seemingly barren world, gradually learning to treat people better, accepting the idea that maybe she should improve her methods of observation. If the whole world did not mystically revolve around her because she was in fact, magic or special in some huge cosmic lynchpin way, that would have improved her character immeasurably. The pace leaves no room for her to develop a character. She goes from baselessly believing she is better than everyone to, by the extradimensional climax, feeling out the edges of the base of her being an actual god/time anomaly/creator of life and exemplar of evolution.

The prose isn't terrible. It's not perfect and could use some work. The main issue, though, is with the pacing of the events as it relates to negative character development, and a lack of depth in characters as a whole. I feel that someone like Seanan Maguire, or Patrick Ness would have made this into a solid, deeply relatable work that I would read over and over again.

The last Japanese thing I read was Lone Wolf and Cub, and the book I read directly before this one was The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander and the contrasts between, respectively, character depth, and the complexity and realism of the relationship between Taran and Eilonwy aren't favourable at all to this book, so I may be judging too harshly, but shouldn't you judge something as it stands in literature as a whole rather than as it stands in it's genre?

Plus this is like the first ever light novel I've read so I can't really judge it by it's genre.
Profile Image for BG_Comedian.
195 reviews1 follower
March 7, 2022
An ordinary superpowerless guy amidst supernatural people slice-of-life, in which, one in the center is the one with god-like power?
Sounds plain and simple plot for Japanese Light Novel industry, but I gotta admire Nagaru found a way to make his writing spellbound. His execution made it so simple, yet fascinating and unique back when the novel was released. I finished the 1st book in 3 days, fast to my standard HAHA.

Still, I'm a loyal reader to the series till this day albeit its 9 years hiatus, and when this series already lost its popularity comparing to its prime era.
Profile Image for Ethan.
59 reviews4 followers
July 23, 2019
Cute novel that's relatively self contained. Obviously there's a ton more to the story but as a quick read there's a definite complete story Arc. I'm mostly looking forward to reading past where the anime adaptation ended.
Profile Image for Lexi.
16 reviews1 follower
August 25, 2022
This was definitely better when I was younger, but not bad by any means. It’s one of the better light novel translations out there.
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